Founder and owner of AISPI, a new fashion journey that helps you discover and shop from local curated European designers. https://aispi.co/
Coffee lover, 30 years old, first baby on the way (well second, AISPI being the first!)
“I know some people dream about being an entrepreneur from the moment they can breathe. They try to envision their businesses in their heads, they plan the littlest things way ahead … That was not how it went for me. I studied finance and management at The Wharton School, UPenn. During my years at university I learned a lot about being an entrepreneur and about the different industries. I realised I liked the energy of the creative industry, and more specific the fashion industry. But you know how it goes – at the time, I didn’t really have the courage or vision to start something.
After 5 to 6 years in corporate M&A, I knew that if I didn’t do something then, I wouldn’t do it ever. That’s when I started to work part time (I am an advisor at E&Y) so I was able to give my idea for the fashion industry a bit more time to develop.
What a lot of people underestimate, is that you don’t sign up for entrepreneurship alone. I am lucky to be married to a very supportive husband, but you really need to think about the consequences of your ambition for your family. Being an entrepreneur means changes for your money handling, time management and personal choices. But being an entrepreneur also means working with people who believe in your ideas and stay with you through the different stages of your business. That is also a kind of support you need. You learn and grow each and every day.
You know when people say ‘food brings people closer’? I know that is true, because I love traditional Indian and Mexican food. Well, I want to bring that same feeling to the fashion industry. People love European fashion and European designers. With AISPI, you can find a boutique store where you can shop unique items and connect with the designer. We try to educate about the fashion industry: its secrets and its challenges. And we also curate different collections with different designers. In the summer of 2020 for example, we hosted an online charity pop-up themed ‘Traveling to a virtual holiday’. It was a big success.
What makes me a successful entrepreneur is my cultural background. I live in Belgium now, but I was born in India and lived in the US. My family lives across 7 different countries. What I’m trying to say is that I had a global mindset from the beginning. I’m used to having different perspectives. It helps me to move forward faster. Oh, and I don’t take no for an answer – I probably got that from my mother, who is also a very persistent woman. If it’s good for the business, I will find a way to get it done.
COVID-19 obviously left its mark on AISPI. It makes it harder to plan on the long term. So, I created a new website, made plans for Christmas time, thought about a menswear collection and bigger collaborations. On a personal level, I am looking forward to meeting my little baby in January. I feel and hope being a mom makes you a better entrepreneur. You have someone to leave something to. And I want to be someone my child looks up to.
During the KICKOFFDAYS, I host a workshop about culture in business. Culture to me is about two different things: geographical culture, like Belgium or India, and personal culture. I want my viewers to learn how to deal with different people to get the job done, and how to learn from your mistakes to conduct yourself in a professional setting. People tend to forget that entrepreneurship is not easy and not for everyone. It might seem a bit of a hype now, but that is because people won’t easily talk about the negative aspects of being an entrepreneur. If you want to be an entrepreneur, get ready for a rollercoaster. I hope you like rollercoasters: the speed, the ups and downs, it is scary and it can definitely take its toll on you. But in the end, you can be proud: you did your duty and that comes with professional success.”